The Haitian RevolutionCapitalism, Slavery and Counter-Modernity
The Haitian Revolution
Capitalism, Slavery and Counter-Modernity
Translated by Ramsey McGlazer

It is impossible to understand capitalism without analyzing slavery, an institution that tied together three world regions: Europe, the Americas, and Africa. The exploitation of slave labor led to a form of proto-globalization in which violence was indispensable to the production of wealth. 

Against the background of this expanding circulation of capital and slave labor, the first revolution in Latin America took place: the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 and culminated with Haiti’s declaration of independence in 1804. Taking the Haitian Revolution as a paradigmatic case, Grüner shows that modernity is not a linear evolution from the center to the periphery but, rather, a co-production developed in the context of highly unequal power relations, where extreme forms of conquest and exploitation were an indispensable part of capital accumulation. He also shows that the Haitian Revolution opened up a path to a different kind of modernity, or “counter-modernity,” a path along which Latin America and the Caribbean have traveled ever since.

A key work of critical theory from a Latin American perspective, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of critical and cultural theory and of Latin America, as well as anyone concerned with the global impact of capitalism, colonialism, and race.

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  • December 2019
  • 256 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
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  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509535477
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Table of Contents
Preface by Gisela Catanzaro


Chapter 1: The Category of Slavery and Modern Racism
Elements for an Ethno-Historical Sociology of Ancient and Modern Slavery
The Question of Racism
Racism in “Early Modernity”
The Traces of Time   
         A Better World?

Chapter 2: The Rebellion of the (Slave) Masses and the Haitian Revolution
On the Combined and Uneven
From Particularism to (False) Universalism: A “Philosophical Revolution”
The (Uncertain) Logic of Slave Rebellions
The Rest of the Americas
Enter Saint-Domingue/Haiti
A Portrait of Saint-Domingue/Haiti in 1791
An Excursus on Vodou and its Revolutionary Character
The Social Complexities of Saint-Domingue
The Confused Dynamic of the Revolution
The Meaning(s) of the Haitian Revolution
On “Creative” Violence

Chapter 3: The Disavowed “Philosophical Revolution”: From Enlightenment Thought to the Crisis of Abstract Universalism
Shadows in the Enlightenment: Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Slavery
Slavery without Scare Quotes: Between Hegel and Marx
The Black Enlightenment: The Haitian “Constitutional Revolution”
The Difficulties of Theorizing (Haitian) Revolution
Literature and Art Have Their Say

About the Author
Eduardo Grüner is a sociologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Buenos Aires. He was awarded the Argentine National Literary Prize in 2011 for the original Spanish version of this book.
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“Eduardo Grüner’s remarkable book is not only a brilliant discussion of slavery and the Haitian Revolution; it is also a profound philosophical and critical reflection, from the viewpoint of the slaves’ rebellion, on the contradictions of Eurocentric Enlightenment and of Western (capitalist) modernity.”
Michael Löwy, author of The Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx

“What is revolutionary today about the Haitian Revolution, in which African slaves brought Napoleon's army to ignominious defeat? How does it fundamentally challenge ways of thinking not just about modern history, but about thinking itself? Read Grüner’s book to find the answers to these pertinent questions.”
Michael Taussig, Professor, Columbia University, Class of 1933

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